Australia’s first nuclear waste dump is likely to be sited in the Northern Territory.
Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has revealed Muckaty Station, about 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, as the location the Federal Government will pursue for a national radioactive waste repository.
“We will proceed firstly with the only voluntary site that we have, and that goes to the Ngapa land with respect to the Muckaty Station,” he told 105.7 ABC Darwin.
Mr Ferguson said several sites preferred by the Howard government would no longer be pursued.
“We have knocked out the three sites which were not volunteered by the community but were determined by politicians in Canberra,” he said.
This is “despite the fact that scientifically they actually stack up”.
Should environmental and scientific assessments fail at the Muckaty site, Mr Ferguson said the nuclear waste dump could be located elsewhere in Australia.
“I also have the capacity, if I assess that that is not a proper site, to then open up to a national voluntary site nomination process.”
Mr Ferguson said the Government would this week repeal Howard government legislation that would have enabled it to force the waste dump on the Northern Territory.
He said radioactive waste stored at the site would not be linked to Australia’s uranium exports, but to isotopes used in medical treatments.
He said the Muckaty site had been nominated by the Northern Land Council, however he acknowledged that some traditional owners were not in agreement.
“Clearly there are some differences in terms of the Muckaty Land Trust.”
He said before the site could be approved as a waste dump, the Northern Land Council would “have to prove that it’s been done in accordance with the law of the Northern Territory”.
He said a final decision on the dump site would still take a long time.
“If the science stacks up, and if it meets environmental approvals – but thirdly and more importantly, it obtains the necessary approval from the Ngapa people, through the Northern Land Council – then it will potentially be the appropriate site.”
Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative says the decision is extremely disappointing.
“There is an agreement that was made between the Northern Land Council, the Federal Government and some traditional owners of the land trust,” she said.
“This agreement has never been made public and there’s been a number of documents submitted by other traditional owners calling for the contract and the agreement to be made public so they can see what’s actually been agreed upon for their country.
“It’s a very contested nomination.”
A woman representing some traditional owners of the Muckaty Land Trust says she wants the Federal Resources Minister to visit her country before making decisions about a nuclear waste facility.
Dianne Stokes represents the area’s Miyilwayi traditional owners and says any past agreement with the Ngapa people is not valid.
“I want to get the traditional owners together, talk about it and maybe have a ceremony to show Martin Ferguson who we are, because he didn’t come when we asked him,” she said.
“We’ve written him a letter to come.
“He never came towards us, he never came and faced us, he never came and talked to us.
“None of the people, not even the NLC, came and talked to the traditional owners.”
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
08 8952 2011
0429 900 774